I must admit that the whole concept of a soup-curry was quite the paradox for me. Sure, both are warm, comforting, hearty, reminds me of home. Both are meant to be enjoyed with a side of starch, and usually come with a myriad of other accompanying ingredients. But one's meant to be drank right from a spoon, and could simply be a meal on its own without the carbs on the side. I mean, you could drink curry too if you want, but no one really does that with the thick, sweet and starchy Japanese curry — or do they?
Apparently they do in Japan. Soup curry's a legit, popular, and very much appreciated dish originating from Hokkaido. What Google says that is is effectively a well made stock that's got a variety of ingredients and spices added to it. A very broad description, which also means a lot of room for creativity and fun.
Here at SAMA Curry the system's pretty straightforward: pick your protein from 10 'bowl' creations; select your spice level; choose between Tomato, Coconut, Shrimp, and Japanese soup bases; then see if you wanna have anything else from their list of add-ons. Each bowl served with assorted vegetables baby corn, broccoli, eggplant, green pepper, carrot, okra, potato, half a Japanese soft-boiled egg, which together with your rice and protein makes for a pretty filling meal.
Marathon Chicken (S$14.90++) in tomato curry — Chicken leg
To be utterly and brutally honest, this tasted very much like chicken in a tomato soup. The 'curry' was very literally a liquid broth, so I felt like I was having a Teochew porridge kinda dish with all sorts of toppings mixed in. The chicken thigh was tender and nicely seasoned, but I can't say I really liked this.
Cheesy Bear (S$16.90++) in coconut curry — Fried chicken with roasted cabbage and cheese
It was the same for this coconut curry. Though slightly thicker than the tomato one, it's definitely still more of a broth than a curry and lacked the shiokness traditional Japanese curries have. I liked that the fried chicken cutlet was pretty big, tasty, and not greasy, but the amount of cheese on the other hand was so little it was practically negligible.
We thought, so this soup curry thing may not be up our aisle but traditional Japanese sides ought to do the trick no?
Shrimp Gyoza (S$6.50++ for 6 pieces)
As far as all deep-fried dough-wrapped snacks go, this gyoza's definitely more akin to a bad wanton. The skin was way too thick and was nothing like the beautifully elastic gyoza wrappers we typically get, and the filling was so sparse I felt like we were just eating crisps with a side of mayo. Not expensive, so I guess you do get what you pay for.
Hokkaido Imomochi (S$6.50++ for 2 pieces)
The single hero of our meal at SAMA Curry was this imomochi. It's cheesy, it's chewy, it's super decadent and addictive for a side bite. It is however, rather small and thus pricey as well.
Having heard so much about SAMA Curry, I was pretty disappointed with my first visit. Granted, this may be exactly how soup curry's supposed to taste like and I'm sure it's got its own steady base of fans out there. It's simply unfortunate that I can't consider myself one.
Sama Curry & Café
OUE Downtown 2 Gallery
6 Shenton Way #03-26